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“We are lucky to have him”

Rangers Manager Bruce Bochy joined the K&C Masterpiece on 105.3 The Fan (KRLD-FM) to discuss the team’s handling of adversity, Wyatt Langford’s breakthrough and Josh Smith’s defense.

The answers have been slightly edited for clarity.

Nathaniel Lowe’s message to fans recently was, “Just stick with us.” Do you guys still have that confidence, no matter what’s on the record?

Bruce Bochy: We have. You can feel it in the stadium, the great crowds that come to the games. That’s what was disappointing for us, that we didn’t play a little bit better. But I agree with (Nathaniel Lowe), stick with us. You never know what can happen. We see some teams that we thought were out. Houston is one of them, now they’re right up there. They’ve fought back. In this game, you never know. I’ve been in tougher situations, let’s be honest. It’s just about making a good run and that can happen at any time. But I mean, we’re at the halfway point, so you don’t know what’s going to happen. We’re still looking at this division, I can promise you that.

Josh Smith had to play multiple positions on defense and was great at third base. Is he your best defensive player?

Bochy: Oh, I would say that. Look at what (Marcus Semien) does at second base, but I’m talking about someone who moves all over the field. He does what he does at third base, and then he goes to second base. I mean, that ball up the middle, that little flip, he makes it look so easy. He’s got great hands, he’s got a good arm, and then when you have to put him in the outfield, including center field, he does a great job there. So yeah, I would say he’s got to be our best defender just because he plays everywhere, but not just there. He’s a plus defender no matter where you put him.

Wyatt Langford and Josh Smith are the joint winners of the Texas Rangers Player of the Month award

Tyler Mahle pitched two innings in his first rehab start. Did you get a good report on how he felt off the mound yesterday at Triple-A Round Rock?

Bochy: Yeah, he felt great. He threw the ball well here in live batting practice, so I’m not surprised he went down there and threw well. He’s got great stuff, a really good slider, a good changeup. He probably had to get the adrenaline going for his first outing.

I don’t want to put a number on his return, but I would say probably August. It could be a week before, it could be a week after, but throwing the ball the way he’s been doing is a great start.

A bright spot in June was Wyatt LangfordHe was also allowed send his studs to Cooperstown to get the cycle. Can you talk briefly about what an honor this is and what we saw from Langford in June?

Bochy: I’m a fan too, believe me. I’m in that dugout and he’s someone I love to watch. I love the way he walks the line. He’s always thinking double or triple and it’s just fun to watch him play. He’s a complete baseball player. In the beginning, that doesn’t surprise me. Yeah, he’s trying to find his way, there’s always some teething issues with young players, but this guy is going to have a great career. He just gets it. He’s got a passion for the game, nobody works harder, nobody plays harder. For him to accomplish that, those three things, that’s the first time ever a first-year player has accomplished something like that, is unbelievable. I never thought I’d hit an inside-the-parker and hit a cycle. But that just shows what this guy can do, and not just with the bat. I think he’s going to be a superior outfielder. He’s doing a great job there now. He’s a superior runner. He’s one of the fastest guys in the game, so we’re lucky to have him. He’s one of those exciting players. I would definitely buy a ticket to see him play.

He’s always thinking double. Even on ground ball base hits, the infielders think they have plenty of time and he beats them. He’s a strong runner too. He fights through. Some guys just glide along, but he’s got such strong legs. I look at Bo Jackson, someone like him, they were strong runners, or Mike Trout. That’s how he is.

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